BlackPink & 2NE1: Unexpectedly Different

On Aug. 8, 2016, YG Entertainment’s long-anticipated girl group BlackPink debuted with their first digital single album Square One with title tracks “Whistle” and “Boombayah.” Now a household name in the larger K-pop fandom, BlackPink was the label’s first girl group since 2NE1’s debut in 2009, a fact that immediately warranted comparisons to their predecessors thanks to their similar musicality and four-member lineup. As 2NE1 inched closer towards disbandment in late 2016, Blackjacks saw BlackPink’s debut as a nail to the 2NE1 coffin, and remained especially hesitant to support the new group.

Alongside an introduction post about the new group, I constructed only weeks after their debut an in-depth comparison of the two groups and arrived at the conclusion that the groups were uncomfortably similar. To summarize, both groups had four members , an edgy electropop/hip-hop infused sound, and members that grew up both within and outside of Korea among other similarities. The only small differences were in the ages of the members, visuals of each group, and the lack of an assigned leader in BlackPink.

At the time, this analysis was valuable in forming an informed opinion about BlackPink’s individuality (or lack thereof) as a group. But they have now reached their one-year anniversary, and have three more tracks, variety appearances, and other developmental factors from which a collective group character is beginning to emerge, one that was not very visible only weeks into their debut. Upon reevaluation, BlackPink and 2NE1 seem more different than we originally thought they were.

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Since their summer debut last year, BlackPink has since released three more tracks — the EDM-influenced “Playing with Fire,” campfire bop “Stay,” and bubbly electropop “As If It’s Your Last.” The group has also begun to perform on more music shows than just SBS Inkigayo (YG Entertainment’s relations with other Korean broadcasting stations has been notably cold in recent years), and has appeared on Weekly Idol, Radio Star, and Knowing Bros in addition to various CFs. For comparison, 2NE1’s activity in the same time period includes disbandment in November 2016 and the release of their last song “Goodbye” as three members before entirely parting ways in January of this year.

Despite 2NE1’s disbandment, the question remains: How does BlackPink, now a sustained and trending K-pop artist in their own right, compare to 2NE1 at its peak years ago?

At the time of the group’s debut, “Whistle” and “Boombayah” wielded a powerful impact, but failed to show onlookers that the group was very different or new. With electropop, EDM influence, rap, and some attitude, BlackPink debuted with largely the same sound as that of their YG predecessors (albeit updated to match more current music trends). Had BlackPink continued entirely on those lines, the group’s musical color would be nowhere near as unique as it is now.

But through the promotion of their more recent releases, we have seen greater variety in their discography, performance, and aesthetics. Their next release, “Playing With Fire,” utilized structural changes rarely present in 2NE1’s music and employed noticeable differences in performance and styling.

BlackPink’s member structure initially seemed almost identical to that of 2NE1, but with the release of new singles, differences slowly became more apparent. Within 2NE1, CL both rapped and sang, while Minzy debuted mostly as a rapper and transitioned into singing more over time. At debut, Jennie’s role in the group largely took after CL as a rapper and singer, but her role seems to have at least slightly changed over time — she only sings in “Playing With Fire,” “Stay,” and “As If It’s Your Last.” Main dancer Lisa, unlike her 2NE1 counterpart Minzy, handles mostly rapping in BlackPink’s three latest tracks. These differences may seem minute at first, but they clear up one of my biggest assumptions from a year ago: that each BlackPink member would take after a specific 2NE1 member. While this is still at least somewhat true — Jisoo still largely takes after Dara, and the same can be said of Rosé and Bom — any differentiation here is valued, and it becomes even more important when examining the larger structure of BlackPink’s songs.

Most of Lisa’s lines in “Playing With Fire” are found in the rap section after the first chorus, similar to her part in accompanying A-side track “Stay.” 2NE1’s songs, on the other hand, took on two structures, either a back-and-forth between rapping and singing in verses — “Fire,” “Go Away,” “Falling in Love,” “Gotta Be You,” and more — or consisted entirely of singing — “Ugly,” Lonely,” “I Love You.” BlackPink songs have developed a largely different structure, delegating singing parts to three members who do not (usually) rap, and instead having one member handle one rap section along with occasional singing lines here and there.

This structure segregates rap and singing more aggressively than YG releases have in the past, conforming more closely to other K-pop releases from groups like f(x), SHINee, 9MUSES, and others in which only one rap section is included after either the first or second chorus of the song, handled by a rapper who doesn’t appear much outside of those lines. This structure was almost entirely absent in 2NE1’s music, and demonstrates a large shift away from 2NE1’s sound that, in many ways, did not conform with that of the rest of K-pop. Here, we see BlackPink deviating from YG’s sound on the whole to be more typically mainstream K-pop.

“Stay” is also an interesting departure from the YG sound. By all means, the label excels at releasing reflective and evocative ballad-oriented music, with 2NE1’s “Missing You” and “It Hurts (Slow)” as great examples. But the incorporation of a folk-inspired sing-along chorus in “Stay” differentiates it entirely from any 2NE1 or BIGBANG song. While we have yet to see BlackPink’s somber side develop, the instrumental and melodic construction of “Stay” tells us that the group’s overall sound may be different than that of their YG predecessors.

Beginning with “Playing With Fire,” the performance and styling elements have contributed most significantly to BlackPink’s emerging individual identity. While 2NE1 opted for crazy stage costumes with bright colors, crazy shapes, and outrageous yet trendy hairstyles (see: Dara’s palm tree hair), BlackPink has opted for a style that is more traditionally pretty in the world of K-pop, wearing school outfits and elegant red carpet outfits instead of crazy Jeremy Scott designs (see: CL’s unicorn dress) and bright, feathery jackets and dresses. BlackPink’s style, which is also reflected in their choreography, facial expressions, and other performative nuances, is slightly more delicate and feminine. And despite the fact that many girl groups, including TWICE, GFriend, and Red Velvet sport more feminine fashion, BlackPink largely establishes their own trends, as their dress is high-fashion and chic, often coming from luxury brands. While 2NE1’s outfits were less flattering to facial beauty and body curves, BlackPink shows off regality and poise with their fashion, and precipitates into a more chic and feminine performance as well.

2NE1 & BlackPink: Comparing Fashion & Styling

2NE1 Black Pink
2NE1 Black Pink Teaser
2NE1 Black Pink Playing With Fire
2NE1 Black Pink As If It's Your Last
2NE1 Black Pink Boombayah
Black Pink

Many of these differences are once again visible, if not amplified, in the release of their recent “As if It’s Your Last.” While many fans felt this track was reminiscent of 2NE1, the BlackPink members explained that this song captures the group’s “Pink” side, which differentiates from previous releases that were more “Black.” And the dichotomy is clear — this song has the members smiling, making cutesy expressions on stage, and wearing school uniform-inspired outfits even in the music video.

The major difference here is, while 2NE1 had a cuter side as demonstrated by songs like “Falling in Love” and “Do You Love Me,” none of their music ever fit into a “Black” or “Pink” dichotomy, as their music was usually along a smaller spectrum within what we could consider on the “Black” side. 2NE1 was undoubtedly edgier and more hard-hitting, while BlackPink fuses some of that style with more delicate visuals and musical elements in their discography. This difference, like many of the others, leans again towards current mainstream K-pop genre, as the majority of girl groups at the moment are very, if not entirely, focused on cute concepts and feminine delivery.

Surprisingly, BlackPink’s deviation from the characteristic YG style in favor of the stylings and strategies of other K-pop groups contradicts with what the group has said in response to comparisons with 2NE1. When asked about the similarities, the members say that they “do not purposely try to be different from 2NE1,” and remain focused on maintaining the YG sound. However, as the group continues to diverge from YG’s sound and style, their response becomes less consistent with their performance and music. Rather than maintaining the YG sound, it seems BlackPink is more focused on expanding and diversifying it with contemporary K-pop colors.

Clearly, BlackPink has largely distinguished itself from 2NE1, and for that reason, Blackjacks and older K-pop fans in general may feel more comfortable supporting the group and its members going forward. As BlackPink deviates, however, it does conform more strongly to the K-pop mainstream, and for that reason among others, the group seems to lack some of the impact that 2NE1 had on the larger industry.

2NE1 were known as Korea’s top digital sellers for a while because of the sheer power of their songs — “Fire” and “I Don’t Care” exist among the top-selling songs in South Korea’s history, while almost all of their following singles have charted within the top four of weekly Korean song charts, including a total of eleven number-one singles (excluding their post-disbandment release “Goodbye”). At their peak, 2NE1 had the ability to entirely take over music charts and flatten competition, and much of their music won daesangs (major awards) at end-of-year shows. The group existed among few girl groups to amass a large fandom, allowing them to sell albums in huge quantities in Korea as well. It is for these reasons that 2NE1 was immediately considered the definitive number two next to Girls’ Generation, and the now 10year-old group’s strongest competition at each group’s respective peak.

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While BlackPink has sold considerably well and seen the development of its own fandom, the group has failed to excite the public to the same extent as their predecessors did. Obviously, BlackPink is an incredibly successful girl group, but their only single that has really taken over charts to date is “Whistle,” and some of BlackPink’s singles like “Boombayah” and “Stay” have already charted lower than pretty much any of 2NE1’s singles. BlackPink has failed to clear out competition the same way 2NE1 could, as “As if It’s Your Last” had some difficulty competing with MAMAMOO on the charts upon release. The group has also yet to win many major awards, and has not distinguished themselves as the definitive competitor next to the generation’s top-performing girl group, which is, at this point, TWICE. Instead, that title would likely go to Red Velvet or GFriend at the moment, likely because these groups have promoted more and debuted earlier, and have already captured the public attention.

It seems that, along with confounding factors like the oversaturation of the girl group market (especially with post-I.O.I debuts and comebacks), BlackPink’s blend into the mainstream has hurt its competitive viability. While the group will enjoy success, BlackPink’s music, style, and promotion strategy might need to be reconsidered if YG wants to replicate the explosive responses 2NE1 received.

Contrary to initial (and still popular) belief, BlackPink truly is different from their predecessors 2NE1, but from the standpoint of success and achievement as musicians, that may or may not be a good thing.

How different are Black Pink and 2NE1? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

The new evolution lives on: 2NE1’s disbandment through a Blackjack’s eyes

I woke up yesterday morning with no knowledge that breaking K-Pop news had transpired overnight. Like most millennials, I immediately grabbed my phone upon waking, laying in bed and scrolling through Facebook and Messenger.

“Why is 2NE1 trending?” I thought as I clicked through the mobile Facebook app. I assumed it was news of another CL English release, or could it be something related to Dara? Tragically naive, I continued to believe the news would be minor and only related to one member of the group. That is, until I saw the words “2NE1 Disbandment” come up across my screen. In disbelief, my fingers immediately closed the app. Is it actually happening? I raced to check major K-Pop news outlets for answers.

“YG Announces 2NE1’s Disbandment and Nam Tae Hyun’s Departure from WINNER,” the headlines read, and my heart sunk. Don’t get me wrong. As a Blackjack who felt the heartbreak of Minzy leaving a few months ago, the frustration of Bom’s scandal, and YG consistently delaying comebacks — as well as the sobering dread of consecutive disbandments and member leaves come out of this year — I was aware that 2NE1’s untimely breakup wasn’t too far off. As a result, I think my K-Pop fanboy emotional turmoil has been spread out across this year, so the blow of 2NE1’s disbandment was small in magnitude, but still sharp, painful, and cold.

Unlike many other dedicated K-Pop fans, my story with 2NE1 didn’t begin with their debut. I wasn’t actually made aware of 2NE1 until December of 2011, when I still thought K-Pop was over-autotuned garbage (sorry, I was a bratty middle-schooler). My friend Alice, insistent on proving me wrong, sat me down in front a computer screen at our town’s public library. I watched, skeptical and stubborn, as she pulled up “I Am the Best” and jammed her headphones in my ears. She pressed “play,” and my life was instantly changed.


To say I was absolutely amazed is more than an understatement. From the dazzling lights to the metallic outfits and shiny sets, I saw 2NE1 take music videos to a level that American pop stars rarely have. And the song — full of bombastic confidence, strong vocals, and unparalleled power — redefined my understanding of music. Until then, I was listening to the conventional mainstream American pop artists and, not to say that those artists aren’t talented or deserving of their fame, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my music options. In my search for a musical identity, 2NE1 filled a large, gaping void with a more refined sound and visual than I believed Western music could offer. From that one, fateful day, I ran forward into the world of K-Pop and I haven’t looked back since.

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Yes, I believe I missed out on being a Blackjack during 2NE1’s formative years. That didn’t stop me, however, from watching all of their old music videos and performances, getting to know each member, and watching the entirety of 2NE1TV as an optimistic grade-schooler. And I was not only amazed by their music and performance ability, but also by their style, by their confidence, by their boldness. I was amazed by the stunning music videos, by the colors and designs they wore in their clothes and hair, by the choreography they seamlessly danced through in beautiful, eye-catching sets. 2NE1 was sharp and powerful, but still beautiful and evocative. Something about them was so fresh and refined, like they had completely reinvented pop culture and fashion to support their own extraordinary style and swag.

No, 2NE1 was not K-Pop’s first “edgy” girl group — the most frequently cited counterargument to that claim is simply the existence and legacy of Brown Eyed Girls, another girl group I deeply respect. But 2NE1 had a lot to do with breaking the girl group standard. They mixed hard-hitting sounds with loud personalities and fun performances to make themselves visibly and audibly infectious. I was pulled in by 2NE1 because they gave off an an aura of their own, creating a certain vibe that was entirely unique to them in the competitive world of K-Pop girl groups.

Now, I’m not saying they ignored every rule of the girl group world. For one, they definitely capitalized on the hook song trend — while Girls’ Generation sang the words “gee” and “baby” in rapid repetition and Wonder Girls did the same with “Nobody,” 2NE1 followed a similar formula with their songs “Fire” and “I Don’t Care.” But unlike other K-Pop groups, 2NE1 stood for more than wooing the boy.

They weren’t ‘cute,’ and they didn’t try to be likable or visually charming with their music. Instead, they came to make a statement, something K-Pop groups rarely do. Their refusal to follow the typical girl group formula of the time and ability to set their own trends has, no doubt, contributed to the empowerment of women, both Korean and international and growing confidence among all of their fans around the world. Watching their facial expressions, choreography and vocal color develop throughout various performances, I began to see that 2NE1 had created their own unique sense of femininity, one that wasn’t so focused on being delicate, innocent, and pretty. Even though each of these girls are visually stunning, they weren’t popular for their looks, as many groups are — they were popular for relatable and exciting music, and for carrying themselves with so much prowess and fierceness. Fans found solace in not only their confidence and unapologetic badassery, but also their ability to connect with listeners. I was captivated by every performance — I grew an attachment to their vibrant stages, high-quality music, and colorful visuals over time.


And while they opted not to maintain the conventional charm that other girl groups did, CL, Dara, Bom, and Minzy showed that they were funny, loveable, and caring through 2NE1TV. From shopping trips to MV shoots, it was clear that they were hardcore onstage, but real, down-to-earth people offstage. I learned to admire them for both sides — I wanted to be just as confident, commanding, stylish and refined as they were when they performed, but also as loveable, friendly, and funny as they were when they weren’t on stage.


In terms of the grand scheme of K-Pop success, I think it’s easy to forget just how successful as a group they were due to their lengthy absence and limited discography. The girls are considered digital queens for a reason — with only four major Korean album releases, they’ve had 12 number-one songs and many more within the top five of digital charts. To this day, none of their Korean singles have ever charted below #4 on weekly charts, something that no other Korean girl group has been able to accomplish. With the exception of their final album Crush,, 2NE1’s Korean albums have also sold in excess of 100,000 copies, making them one of the only girl groups in the modern K-Pop era to achieve both digital and physical success. During their most active years, 2009 through 2011, they were the most nominated and most awarded artist at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. Within only three years, 2NE1 had won four MAMA daesang awards, the highest of any artist in history (including legends like Rain, BoA, Girls’ Generation, TVXQ, etc.), until BIGBANG overtook them in 2015. And despite not having been awarded since 2011, 2NE1 is still tied for most awarded artist at MAMA for non-daesang awards. To anyone who watches the charts or award shows closely, 2NE1 is legendary for being able to command such popularity and success in such a short amount of time. Along metrics of public impact and numerical success, along with style and music, there is no other K-Pop artist like them.


But as we all know, that success didn’t last forever. YG’s poor management steered them into a downward spiral, one that started with some delays, saw a drug scandal in between, and ended with a member leave before announcing their disbandment. To this day, I’m sad that I never got to see 2NE1 at their prime, performing daily on music shows or taking awards at MAMA. But the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

2NE1 effectively changed my life. As an impressionable student watching their videos and performances, I was inspired, and my ambitions shifted. I was now more immersed in the 2NE1 aura that was so beautiful, strong, talent-oriented, and well-presented. I worked to emulate it in my own, not-as-glamorous life — from buying some nicer clothes and working harder at my own singing, to doing better in school and becoming a leader in my school community. 2NE1 had and still does give me motivation to be the best version of myself, and that passion has permeated all aspects of my life. Watching 2NE1 on- and offstage has given me the determination to achieve the same level of quality and success in my life that they brought to every project they worked on.

Not to mention, 2NE1 is what started me on my journey as a K-Pop fan — from them, I hopped over to videos from f(x), Girls’ Generation, BIGBANG, SHINee, 4Minute, KARA, and more, each of whom modified my worldview and intensified my ambition. As an Indian-American, learning more about K-Pop exposed me to aspects of Asian culture I was unaware of as well. I owe all of that to 2NE1, and I’m eternally grateful. As they became less and less active, I watched their videos with love and a heavy heart, embracing the lighthearted nature of “Can’t Nobody” and “Fire,” and admiring the fierceness of “I Am the Best” and “Come Back Home.” I’ve fallen in love with all of their songs over the years, and I’ll never stop listening to them. That’s right, the New Evolution of the 21st Century (the core meaning of 2NE1’s name) does not end here. Whether it’s in Blackjacks’ hearts or ears, 2NE1 lives on.

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In many ways, this disbandment could mean we might actually see more of them, now that the members are no longer under the group’s constraining framework that, given logistical problems and YG’s subpar management, just wasn’t working. CL is still working on English music, and while succeeding in the American music market is hard, it isn’t impossible, and I have faith in CL to give us some good music over the next few months. Dara is still signed to YG, and I’m excited to see her as an actress soon in her upcoming movie One Step. Minzy is now under Music Works, and her solo debut is hopefully only months away. And that leaves Bom, whose future is currently being called into question after it was announced that her contract with YG was not renewed. But I have faith — her recent Instagram post shows her “working on a song to sing” for us all soon. We can only wait, and hope that, in due time, Bom will regain the strength to come back and give us something new. While we probably won’t see them together anytime soon, the fact that each of them may have a future available to them in the entertainment industry says a lot about each member’s power, talent, and versatility. And as a Blackjack, that’s something I’m proud of.


Thank you, 2NE1, for inspiring me to remain open-minded and receptive to different types of entertainment and music. Thank you, 2NE1, for giving a voice to the “Lonely” and “Ugly”, those of us who needed to be told that we are, in fact, more than what we see in the mirror. Thank you, 2NE1, for having such a transformative impact on my life. Thank you, 2NE1, for defining so much of my livelihood growing up.

Thank you for everything. Nolza forever!

How do you feel about 2NE1’s disbandment? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

BlackPink vs. 2NE1: The ultimate analysis

BlackPink 2NE1

Around the time of their debut earlier this month, I wrote a detailed introduction to YG Entertainment’s long-awaited girl group, BlackPink. Now that the group’s history and its members have been properly discussed, the time has come to analyze the group’s structure and sound. While YG made it clear that he originally wanted to create a group like Girls’ Generation from rival SM Entertainment, the label ended up opting for something much more like its own act 2NE1. BlackPink’s formation, in my opinion, is definitely the safer route. Instead of pushing its boundaries to create a larger girl group with bigger visuals and personalities, YG maintains its trademark styles of fusing hip-hop and pop while emphasizing rap and vocals over everything else. Because the songs match YG’s style so closely, the question must be asked (and it is being asked all over the K-pop community) – what differentiates this group from 2NE1? The answer is, well, not that much.

I will, however, dive into the similarities and differences to provide more insight.

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In terms of members, BlackPink mirrors 2NE1 almost exactly. Jennie’s place in the group is almost identical to that of CL because her specialty is rap, but she can sing and dance as well. She gives off the same badass, hardcore vibe that is so notoriously CL. Going off of that, Jisoo mirrors Dara, serving as the visual focus of the group and handling some singing lines. The importance of her role is performance much more than any specific raw talent, which is exactly what Dara contributes to 2NE1. Rosé easily matches Bom, as both are main vocals and handle only singing lines, especially ones that require the most vocal skill and power. The most recognizable connection is between Lisa and Minzy – both are maknaes (youngest members), and are (or were) the most versatile members of their respective groups in terms of talent. Lisa handles rap and dance along with a few singing lines, similar to Minzy’s role in 2NE1 around the time of their debut.

And like 2NE1, BlackPink’s musicality and lyricism is influenced very much by the members’ international backgrounds – both groups have only one member born and raised in Korea (Jisoo in BlackPink, Minzy in 2NE1), another member who lived in Southeast Asia (Lisa in BlackPink, Dara in 2NE1), two members from English-speaking countries (Jennie lived in New Zealand while Rosé lived in Australia, CL and Bom lived in the USA), and some European influence as well (Jennie is originally from the Netherlands, CL spent a few years living in France).

blackpink whistle

And obviously, the biggest similarity is music/concept. 2NE1 (in their original four-member form), could probably sing both “Whistle” and “Boombayah.” Even though 2NE1 may have matured away from this kind of sound in recent releases (and that makes sense, since BlackPink as a group is much younger in age). “Boombayah” is absolutely reminiscent of “Fire,” although not as much in sound, but definitely in concept and line distribution (the more obvious sound comparison can be made with songs like “Fantastic Baby” and “Bang Bang Bang” by BIGBANG). Only time will tell if BlackPink will move to deeper, more evocative concepts like 2NE1 did with “Come Back Home,” or if they stay with more lighthearted yet hard-hitting songs like “Boombayah” and “Whistle.”

The differences between the two debuts aren’t significant or groundbreaking, but still definitely notable. YG definitely put more interest into visuals this time around, trying harder to pick members that match Korean standards of beauty. In the eyes of the Korean public, this probably gives BlackPink a little bit more of the attractive qualities that groups like Girls’ Generation bring to the industry. And while 2NE1 is incredibly beautiful and likeable, the group was a bit more focused on hard-hitting performances even in member structure, so we see YG deviating from that concept a little bit by pushing the visuals.

From the styling to the sound, BlackPink’s two debut songs and accompanying videos seem to be produced meticulously. In this sense, BlackPink is more polished than 2NE1 was at their debut, since YG was still experimenting with girl group visuals and sounds back then. Another notable difference – BlackPink doesn’t have a leader. While CL wielded leadership proudly, BlackPink demonstrates a little more equality among members. This leaves probably the most exciting difference – all of the members are incredibly versatile. While Jisoo is the group’s visual, she has a strong singing voice, allowing her to develop her sound further over the group’s upcoming releases in ways we might not expect. Even Rosé, the main vocal, is a fantastic dancer (well, based on their Dance Practice video that went up on YouTube a little while back), meaning her role can exceed expectations as well.

The verdict – overall, BlackPink is incredibly similar to 2NE1, and it speaks an incredibly loud message about YG’s desire to put out a girl group that could emulate 2NE1’s success, rather than try something drastic and new. Even Yang Hyun Suk himself commented on the similarities, expressing his interest in maintaining the YG style and sound. So BlackPink isn’t exactly breaking any boundaries, but they are carrying the YG name with a feminine touch, something K-pop has been missing since 2NE1 went haywire following a drug scandal back in 2014 (and a little bit before that, as well). For at least that much, I applaud BlackPink.

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The rest of my first impression of BlackPink is, however, much more nuanced. With such striking similarities to 2NE1 in structure and sound, BlackPink is YG’s way of saying that the characteristic “YG sound” is not as important as the artists themselves. Sure, it’s cool that YG as a record label has its own way of distinguishing itself, but it’s unfair to the artists to box them off within the boundaries of what YG does with its sound. Not to mention, it’s incredibly unfair to Blackjacks, who have been waiting for YG to do something about Park Bom’s scandal and give 2NE1 a comeback. The existence of a new girl group is not at all a problem, but the similarities seem to indicate that YG wants this group to carry on the “YG sound” by effectively replacing 2NE1, the girl group that contributed so much to the establishment of the “sound” in the first place. While 2NE1 might be on a downward spiral, debuting what is essentially a more polished version of them is disrespectful to them and their fans.

That being said, I plan on supporting this group, just not as strongly as I’ve supported 2NE1 (if you couldn’t tell by now, I am a Blackjack). BlackPink’s concept is a two-edged sword, as it makes them unique in K-pop right now but not at all within their label. But no matter the negatives, they are here to extend and carry on 2NE1/YG’s original mission of creating a girl group that shamelessly challenges K-pop’s neverending dichotomy of innocent vs. sexy.

Somehow, both 2NE1 and BlackPink simultaneously fall right in the middle of the spectrum and entirely outside of it. Despite the lack of originality in concept, BlackPink is full of talent, beauty, versatility and, most importantly, good music. And for those reasons, I’m rooting for them. I hope they find a way to stand out among YG’s slowly converging discography, because that may be the best, if not only, way to continue to success they’re currently receiving.

How do you feel about BlackPink’s debut and 2NE1’s legacy? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

‘Hello Bitches:’ Choreographer Parris Goebel Talks CL & Women Empowerment Through Dance [INTERVIEW]

parris goebel interview hello bitches cl choreographer

What does the all-girl slayage choreography on Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” video and Taeyang’s hard-hitting moves on “Ringa Linga” have in common? No, not a hot male artist who excels at dance, but the “Polyswagg” creator and world-renowned choreographer who’s taking the industry by storm. I’m, of course, talking about Parris Goebel.

Even if you’re not familiar with the 24-year-old’s name, you’re aware of her work. If not from taking center stage in the Biebs’ video, her participation with her female dance squad ReQuest on “America’s Best Dance Crew,” or acting in the movie “Step Up 5,” then you might remember a certain girl in chains in BIGBANG’s “Bang Bang Bang” music video or the dancer with the bangs on CL’s “Hello Bitches.”

bang bang bang bigbang gifbigbang bang bang bang

bigbang bang bang bang gif

via gd-peaceminusone @ Tumblr

Yep, that’s Parris.

The New Zealand native has been in demand by everyone these days for her strong and sexy presence and style, especially empowering female artists who’ve noticed how she’s empowering women through dance. So just to give you an idea of the magnitude of her caliber, let’s just grace the surface of her resume by saying her work includes choreographing Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, and even Chinese pop diva Jolin Tsai’s latest tours. No biggie.

After working with BIGBANG and on Taeyang’s solo, she has now teamed up with the YG Entertainment artist that embodies female empowerment and sexiness, the baddest female herself CL and helped her shape the precedent of what we’re to expect from her upcoming American debut album. And not only did Parris choreograph and, along with ReQuest, star in CL’s teaser song “Hello Bitches,” but she directed and produced it as well. As a result, we got a fierce and flawless dance performance video that highlights CL’s sexy, sassy, and self-empowering image fans have loved her all along for.

hello bitches cl mv gif

via seungriseyno @ Tumblr

KultScene recently caught up with Parris shortly after her stellar MAMA performances — where she and rest of ReQuest danced on CL, BIGBANG, and 2NE1’s stages — to talk about CL and “Hello Bitches,” and how she’s revolutionizing the dance game one collaboration at a time.

Also on KultScene: 8 Moments You’ll Want To Rewatch From MAMA 2015

First and foremost, congratulations on your MAMA performances. You completely owned them and it genuinely seemed like you and the rest of ReQuest were having a blast. How was the whole experience for you?
Parris Goebel: It was a great experience for me and my girls. The awards is a massive event and it has a star line up of artists performing.

hello bitches mama cl gif

via femaleidol @ Tumblr

You’ve described your style of dance “Polyswagg.” Can you give us a crash course on what it is and how you coined the term?
We had to come up with a description of our style of dance on “America’s Best Dance Crew” when we were on it [Season 6]. So we had swagg but our own style and I’m Polynesian so I put the two together.

What would you say sets you apart from other dancers and choreographers that has made you so in demand by artists?
My own individual style and always trying to be fresh with what I create.

For “Hello Bitches,” you didn’t only choreograph the song but you also directed the video. How did you come up with the whole concept, choreography and theme wise?
I just took the song and then thought about what would make CL look hot. CL is a great dancer in her own right and loves to do different things so it was a lot of fun to put it all together for her.

What I really enjoyed about this particular video was that the dancers weren’t mere props adorning the singer, like we often see in a lot of music videos nowadays. You were all main characters and the way the choreography was done conveyed a very interactive vibe. Was that the point or what did you want to portray with the concept?
Really the main essence of the video is dance so shooting CL with the girls around her all the time dancing all made sense.

In the “Hello Bitches” behind-the-scenes video you said you had never connected so well with an artist as you did with CL. How was working with her different and more special than other artists you’ve collaborated with in the past?
We really like all the same things – dance, music, and fashion. CL is more my age and very creative and making a difference for women so all those things make her so much fun to work with.

cl hello bitches parris goebel choreographer

You’ve worked with great female artists of color that embody female empowerment like Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, and now CL. What does it mean to you as a woman of color working with these artists that have done wonders for representation and visibility of WOC in the media and industry?
It’s always a pleasure to work with such strong females each in their own right. They are all successful, they all work hard and they are all very driven. So for me to get to work with them is a real blessing and it makes my job easy because they all embrace womanhood.

What do you think about CL and other Korean artists taking artistic elements from non-Korean societies and cultures? Where do you see the line drawn between cultural appropriation and appreciation?
In music there are no lines – it’s all about expression no matter what race or culture you are. That is the beauty of music – it has no borders.

hello bitches gif cl parris goebel

via soojoo @ Tumblr

Also on KultScene: 6 K-Drama Girl Friendship Goals

Will you continue to work with CL for her American debut?
I definitely hope so.

Other than BIGBANG, 2NE1, and CL, is there any other Korean artist you would like and/or wish to work with?
I really enjoy working with the YG Family as they are all professional and dedicated artists so happy who I am currently working with.

Thank you so much for answering my questions for KultScene. What’s next for you and ReQuest?
Keep changing the game and keep traveling the world.

How much did you love “Hello Bitches?” Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Pictures courtesy of Parris Goebel, edited by Alejandro Abarca.

CL’s ‘Doctor Pepper’ Song Review

CL Doctor Pepper
The time is finally here for K-pop’s greatest hope in the West to begin her attack. As K-pop fans, we have seen many before her attempt and fail to break the musical holy land, America. BoA, Se7en, Wonder Girls did not have what it takes. They, however, did not have the backing that 2NE1’s leader CL has at her disposal. Her overall style since her debut has generally taken a greater influence from the West, anyway. She seems to believe in and love her music which, whether true or not, is more common to a Western pop artist. Her performance style is more about putting on a good show than delivering crisp choreography. Moreover, she always has the famous friends like Jeremy Scott, Diplo, and M.I.A. Collaborations with them could raise her profile in the future.

It comes as no surprise that Doctor Pepper is a sleazy hip-hop track so relevant to the US musical environment right now. Does this live up to the hype of K-pop fans though? And is it going to push her career in the US?


Given that hearing Major Lazer on mainstream radio stations is very common these days, Doctor Pepper is the ideal jumping off point for CL. It’s a heavily synthesized piece of hip-hop that we have come to expect from everything Diplo works on. Musically, it doesn’t deviate from its stabbing electro riff for the most part. The clip clopping drum beat behind it keeps things interesting though. It’s a far cry from what most K-pop listeners will be used to. Yet, like Diplo said, K-pop is broad enough to be able to accept and promote just about anything, even super weird Atlanta hip-hop.

This is really a showcase of the rapping talent featured with CL taking centre stage. It is here where the song really delivers. The repeating hook which CL lays at the beginning is a lot of fun. At first listen, it comes across as pretty cheesy, but there’s a wry cleverness to the lyrics that I like. It’s not a silly little rhyme about a soft drink, but an introduction of the baddest female.She’s letting the US public know how cool she is. Ice cool, if you needed help getting that.

 Also on KultScene: Artist Spotlight: Giriboy

Her rap that follows is similarly simple in its lyric. It contains, however, some slight similarities to CL’s K-pop roots. The vocal inflections and auto-tune recall for a small moment more popular elements. Not to say this is exclusive to K-pop though, most rappers do switch from rapping to singing within one verse a lot. Here though, it seems much more natural due to CL’s incredible vocal range. It appeals to CL’s die hard fans and the party loving Western fans she wants. It’s a pretty good verse to officially open up herself to the public. But in order to leave room for supporting acts, it’s her only verse though.

Those supporters are RiFF RAFF and OG Maco. Raff delivers a typically wacky and fun time while Maco has the Atlanta style flow that perfectly suits this music without overshadowing anyone else.

The Future

The success or failure of Doctor Pepper will have a big impact on CL’s future American career. How the public reacts to it will probably affect what kind of music she continues with, i.e. sticking with Diplo’s signature sounds or going in a more popular root. The success of Nicki Minaj and Diplo’s own work on the charts with Major Lazer show that the style should not be a problem though.

What will probably be the biggest issue is race, unfortunately. The public’s reaction to an Asian pop star getting involved in rap, especially Atlanta style since it’s so local, could be contentious, to say the least. Even though it’s very much in the popular realm now, rap fans have a strong loyalty to their music and artists, not unlike fans of K-pop. The roots of rap are also found in oppression and suffering, whereas CL is a well-travelled superstar who has seemingly never suffered a day in her life.

 Also on KultScene: YG Entertainment and Authenticity in K-Pop

It might seem unfair to assume that people will think this but it’s happening right now to Iggy Azaela, so we know it can happen again. Iggy is constantly being accused of cultural appropriation and it seems to have started hurting her career. I hope the difference between Iggy and CL is that CL actually makes good music. A lot can be forgiven for music that really speaks to people.

While Doctor Pepper may not work as a complete song it does give out good vibes for the future. The style is at once popular and legitimate. The big name connections are there. CL herself is devoted to her music and wants to connect with new audiences. If this isn’t enough to push CL further than those who have tried to break America before, then I hope K-pop stops trying. No one else can do it.

What do you think of CL’s Doctor Pepper? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

K-Pop Idols And The Formidable American Debut

CL joins a line of K-Pop idols who have decided to enter the American music market, but the history of idols in the United States isn’t something that the 2NE1 leader will want to necessary emulate. The most talked about idols to have attempted to enter the American market to date are Rain, BoA, Se7en, Girls’ Generation, SPICA, and The Wonder Girls. Their efforts have done much for Korean music in the US, but the popularity that Korean idols find in many countries didn’t transfer over, and no Korean idols became superstars in Hollywood.

K-Pop made national headlines with the explosion of Psy’s Gangnam Style, the success of which Psy himself admits was a complete accident. In comparison, the other attempts to break into the US were hardly accidents, and were met with varying levels of success.


In one of the more bizarre debuts into the American entertainment industry, Rain gained national attention after beating out Stephen Colbert for the number one spot on a reader-ranked Time 100 Poll in 2007. Rain had already appeared on Time’s 2006 World 100 Most Influential People list following his immense popularity in Asia, and on CNN’s TalkAsia in 2005. But Stephen Colbert took Rain’s win personally, and his Comedy Central audience soon learned a little bit about Rain.

Rain continued being ranked on Times’ lists for the next few years, and had a short guest appearance on the Colbert Report where the two had a dance off.

Even though he gained fame in Asia first as a singer before becoming an actor, Rain made his formal debut in the U.S. as an actor, taking roles in Speed Racer in 2008 and Ninja Assassin in 2009. He even won MTV’s Biggest Badass Award for his role in the latter film.

Rain stopped all of his American activities due to military service, but appeared in August 2014’s The Prince with Bruce Willis and John Cusack. The film was poorly received and Rain has yet to announce future plans to act in the United States. However, following Lee Byung Hyun, Rain is one of Korea’s most impressive action exports to Hollywood.

Success Rate: 80% — He’s still active, and if he lands the right role, Rain could do really well in Hollywood as an action star.


BoA and Rain are best of the top solo idols that Korea has seen, both known for their singing and dancing, and both headed to the United States. BoA tried entering the American market through an album release in 2008, with the English language album BoA. The album included singles Eat You Up, Energetic, and I Did It For Love, as well as Look Who’s Talking, which was originally partially written and recorded by Britney Spears but never publicly released. The album and songs appeared on Billboard charts in the United states, as well as several foreign charts.

BoA performed at MTV Studios in Times Square and appeared at the 2008 Jingle Ball. She also performed at the 2009 San Francisco Pride Festival, where Solange Knowles also performed. The singer also starred in the movie Make Your Move, alongside Dancing With The Stars’ Derek Hough. The movie was released in 2014, after several years in post production. BoA hasn’t really pursued the American industry in some time, instead choosing to focus on Korea and Japan.

Success Rate: 40% — BoA’s songs are as great as any of her Korean ones, but they didn’t gain the attention that they deserve. Make Your Move was not very well received.

The Wonder Girls

Perhaps the most daring, The Wonder Girls devoted themselves to an American debut. The girl group had reached success with addictive hits like Tell Me and Nobody, and JYP Entertainment decided that the five member group would do well in the U.S. The members released some of their songs in English and went on tour with The Jonas Brothers in 2009, acting as the opening act. The Wonder Girls became the first Korean group to have a song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart when the English version of Nobody entered.

However, Sunmi left the group in the middle of American promotions, and Hyelim replaced her. The Wonder Girls then returned to Korea and released 2 Different Tears in English, Korean, and Chinese. The group then went back to the United States and had several concerts. After some more Asian activities, The Wonder Girls returned to the United States with The DJ Is Mine, and appeared in Teen Nick made-for-tv movie, The Wonder Girls. After releasing Like This in Korea and making a Japanese debut, The Wonder Girls returned to the U.S. in July 2012 with Like Money, featuring Akon. Despite the efforts, Like Money didn’t reach success in the US.

Success Rate: 60% — The Wonder Girls tried really hard, but broken up international activities meant that the group didn’t spend enough time in Korea, the U.S., Japan, or China. World domination would be nice, but The Wonder Girls overextended themselves and hurt their chances in both North America and Asia. the group released some great songs and did some amazing things, so it’s really unfortunate that they didn’t reach American fame.


In 2007, Se7en announced that he would be heading into the U.S. market. However, after a collaboration with Fabolous, This Is My Year, was leaked, Se7en’s American debut showed signs of problems, even though Verizon Wireless helped sponsor some of his events. The singer held a showcase in New York City and released Girls feat. Lil’ Kim. The song charted on Billboard‘s World Chart, and the music video aired on BET on June 2nd, 2009.

Success Rate: 30% –He’s the first one to really have tested out the waters of what it would be like for an idol to try making it as a singer in the US, but his test didn’t turn out so well. Se7en gained a major company’s sponsorship, but after the song leak and Girls failed, he returned to Korea and went back to making music that is more suited for him. It’s likely that Se7en decided to cut his losses and head back to Asia.

Girls’ Generation

With two Korean-American members (now only one, after the departure of Jessica from the group), one of the most popular girl groups in South Korea and Asia couldn’t resist the temptation of the United States and Hollywood. Girls’ Generation signed with Universal Music Group in the U.S. in 2011, and the group promoted The Boys there the following year. Girls’ Generation became the first Korean group to appear on Late Night With David Letterman and Live! With Kelly.

Since then, Girls’ Generation has performed at KCON in the USA, and has regularly had songs appear on Billboard charts. Girls’ Generation TTS, the subgroup, has also charted.

Success Rate: 60% — Just like the Wonder Girls, Girls’ Generation gained a lot of hype, but the songs aren’t gaining traction outside of the K-Pop community. With Jessica’s removal from the group, they’re down an English-speaking member, making it less likely that they will attempt further major promotions in the U.S.


The latest girl group to try it out in the United States is SPICA. SPICA released the power, inspiring song I Did It in 2014 and debuted it at KCON the same month. SPICA also performed on a local Los Angeles morning show, Good Morning LA, and held a showcase performance, which Kultscene covered.  The group then went back to Korea and it is unclear whether SPICA will return stateside.

Success Rate: 0-100%  — SPICA has the sound and style that could make it big in the United States, but if the group doesn’t come back, then I Did It will still be a great song, but nothing more. It’s too early to really say whether the group is a success, but I Did It is possibly the best attempt of a K-Pop group to sing a song in English.

CL is trying her hand at it next, and its unclear as to how she’ll compare to the other idols who have attempted to break into the U.S. market. The odds don’t appear to be in her favor, but another imported female rapper — Iggy Azalea- is one of the most popular rappers in the world right now, so what’s to stop CL from seeking success?

How do you think CL will fare in the U.S.? Should any of these idols give America another whirl? What other idols would you like to see try their hand in Hollywood?

5 CL Outfits We Want to Wear

Has there ever been a time when you look at an K-Pop artist’s outfit and you really wish you could own it? Idols are mostly always fashionable from head-to-toe, thus having fashionistas around the world on the lookout for inspiration. But no one makes us yearn over their outfit choices quite as the Baddest Female herself, miss CL.

The 2NE1 leader wears fierce outfits like no other idol, because not only does she have the right body for it, but she also has all the sass. Her style is very versatile and always evolving; you will never see her in the same style every time. She can be seen wearing something super feminine one day, and exploring her man repeller the next. Although it’s much, much more, we’ve picked five times where CL completely slayed fashion and made us want to dress like her.

1. Unicorn dress

CL wore Jeremy Scott’s F/W 2012’S Unicorn dress during 2NE1’s promotions for their first Global Tour: New Evolution. If there is anyone who can pull-off this look anywhere is CL. Even if this look can’t be worn in the real world, we still desire and would love this dress to be part of our closet. It throws you back to our childhood and those Lisa Frank stickers.

2ne1 CL fashion

2. Moschino by Jeremy Scott

CL’s Instagram gives you a very inside look to “The Baddest Female’s” world. Moschino was revived by Jeremy Scott recently, and many fashionistas fell in love with his fast food inspired collection. CL was lucky enough to have Jeremy, his dear friend, gift her pieces of his collection for her birthday. That Moschino sweater and bag are to die for; they are inspired by the iconic McDonald’s golden arches. Who wouldn’t love to have those pieces in their wardrobe?

3. Versus by VERSACE

During the Falling in Love promotions, 2NE1 wore head-to-toe Versus by Versace. The label really brought out those iconic prints that Gianni Versace made famous in the ‘90s. This collection sold out online really fast, and the crop top that CL is wearing was one of the most coveted pieces. If we could have that crop top we could easily pair it with so many things, like ripped boyfriend jeans, a circle skirt, or joggers. It could work for anything!



View on Instagram

4. Kesh for American Apparel

CL wears from high-end designers to more accessible labels like American Apparel. When 2NE1 wore the acclaimed Kesh for American Apparel pieces, Blackjacks around the world were very happy. The collection had just launched and it was very attainable since it wasn’t crazy expensive.

5. Shaun Samson and Chanel

Who doesn’t love cats, especially if it’s a cat that has piercings all over his face? CL wore Shaun Samson’s SS 2013 pierced cat shirt and paired it with checkered shorts and Chanel creepers. G-Dragon also wore these pieces before during his Michi Go promotions. But seeing the way CL styled both items together, it really makes it look effortlessly chic.



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[Featured picture via LuannaMaria]  

What’s your favorite CL look? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear you thoughts, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.